2013 Election Was A Big “Yes” On Mayor Schmidt


Happy 2014!

As one year ends and another begins, it’s time to try to learn some lessons from the past and also look with hope and expectation to the future.  This post will provide the retrospective, with the next post providing the prospective.

The single most significant local event in 2013 was the April election, and that election was dominated by two referendums – the first a referendum on Mayor Dave Schmidt’s first term, the second the Park District’s Youth Campus Park (“YCP”) referendum.

Both won, with Schmidt getting 62.06% (5,614 votes) and the YCP 55.89% (5,118) “yes” votes.  But credit must be given where credit is due: the proponents of the YCP referendum passed the first multi-million dollar parks project in at least the past 30 years.

The more important of those two Election 2013 stories, however, is Schmidt’s – because of its potential long-term significance on City government.

Schmidt’s victory bested both his percentage and his vote total (56.3% and 4,897) achieved in his 2009 victory over then-incumbent Howard Frimark, ironically a strong backer of Schmidt’s 2013 opponent, Larry Ryles.  That suggests Schmidt’s candid “Mayor No” approach touched a responsive chord in the average taxpaying voter.

Schmidt’s win was all the more noteworthy because Ryles was openly backed by the City’s three living former mayors (Ron Wietecha, Mike Marous and Howard Frimark) and by twenty-five former aldermen, purportedly representing 100 years of Council experience.  Interestingly enough, one of those mayors and several of those aldermen actually supported Schmidt 4 years ago, although that support may have been primarily anti-Frimark.

Their support of Ryles appeared to be a mix of anti-Schmidt sentiment and “old way” nostalgia, with Ryles seemingly a poster boy for the social network-style “old way” – when he wasn’t a mere afterthought, as he was in those officials’ full-page ad in the March 27, 2013 issue of the Park Ridge Journal, where Ryles’ name wasn’t even mentioned until the very last of the ad’s 10 paragraphs.

Not surprisingly, those former City officials happened to be the perpetrators of the very messes – from infrastructure neglect to million dollar deficits and that financial white elephant (for the City’s taxpayers), the Uptown TIF – that Schmidt inherited.  They clearly disliked Schmidt’s pointing out to the taxpayers all the shortcomings of their stewardship as he attempted to galvanize the public will into support for the reality checks and belt tightening needed to address all the problems those previous administrations had so effectively swept under the carpet.

Additional opposition came from something called the “Citizens for Non-Partisan Local Elections” (the “CNPLE”), the red-headed stepchild of the once-proud Homeowners Party founded by Marty Butler in the 1960s that cratered several years after Butler’s death.  CNPLE dumped $10,000 of the $15,000 it inherited from the Homeowners’ war chest into the Ryles Campaign, to no effect.

Other significant opponents of Schmidt’s re-election were the City’s employee unions, one of which – the Operating Engineers representing the City’s Public Works employees – made what we understand to be the first-ever union political contribution to a City candidate: $1,000 to the Ryles Campaign.

Whether Schmidt’s lopsided re-election in the face of that kind of “political” opposition represents a paradigm shift away from the “old way” of Park Ridge government (Ryles referred to it, variously, as “hearts and hugs” and “hugs and handshakes”) driven by business and social relationships rather than any shared principles and policies of local governance, still remains to be seen.

But the fact that Schmidt won every single precinct but one in the face of such pointed opposition from those particular factions suggests that Schmidt’s “what does it cost, what is it worth, and do we really need it” approach to City government might be becoming institutionalized.  And the prospect of the new Whole Foods and Mariano’s further rejuvenating the City’s moribund retail base doesn’t hurt, either.

The next three years should prove more than a little interesting.

To read or post comments click on title.

42 comments so far

Had a worthier candidate opposed Schmidt, I would have considered voting for him/her. Ryles was sadly an empty suit with no discernible platform and my choosing Schmidt over him is not an indication that I believe Schmidt is exactly what our city needs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So what exactly does our City need – in the way of a mayor – that Schmidt isn’t providing?

I agree with 8:56 am’s comment insofar as (a) Ryles is an empty suit and (b) I’d never rule out voting for or against anyone until we knew their positions on the issues. So…and maybe I’m asking the same question the editor does in response to your comment…what positions different from Schmidt’s were you looking for, 8:56 am?

I actually like Mayor Schmidt and voted for him. However, Park Ridge voters are either uninformed, dazed and confused, or apathetic, since more people sat out the election then voted.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Park Ridge voters ARE “uniformed, dazed and confused, or apathetic” – not unlike most voters, as noted by no less eminent a political force than Winston Churchill, who opined: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

But Park Ridge voters appear to be LESS of those things than before, given that local government today is more transparent than it ever has been; and that more voters cast ballots in the 2013 Schmidt/Ryles race (9,046) than they did in the Schmidt/Frimark race in 2009 (8,698), the Frimark/Tinaglia race in 2005 (8,114), or any of the three mayoral elections of Ron Wietecha going back all the way to 1993 – all of which Wietecha ran unopposed because so many Park Ridge voters were so uninformed, dazed and confused, and apathetic that they couldn’t even find a challenger to that one-trick (anti-O’Hare) pony.

What particular policy did Schmidt and/or Council do to entice Whole Foods?

That “Whole Foods” line always gets thrown into the promoting of this administration but its inclusion goes against the philosophy of him and others in the council who advocate zero effort for government to bring business to Park Ridge. So, can’t it just be argued that Schmidt was “present” during Whole Foods? Or, maybe even “despite” him?

Also, one could make a case (without fact either way) that without the TIF, Whole Foods would never have come here.

Obviously, with no proof either way, you should be cautioned a little bit about taking victory for Whole Foods, because by that exact success, he should also take claim to every non-developed property in Park Ridge. There is way more to discuss than declaring victory (or fail) in this ongoing (non?) policy.

Is it his fault that the only hope to develop commercial properties in Park Ridge, is to have the RE-ZONED to residential?

And “rejuvenating the City’s moribund retail base doesn’t hurt, either”, reminds me of “Mission Accomplished” that was also once declared way too early.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “What particular policy did Schmidt and/or Council do to entice Whole Foods?”

Let’s start with an anti-deficit, anti-tax increase, fiscally-responsible policy that maybe, just maybe, convinced Whole Foods that they weren’t going to get taxed to death if they located here. That’s never mentioned when our local corporate-welfare crapitalists preach “retail at any price,” but Schmidt’s and the 2012 Council’s refusal to bribe Whole Foods with sales tax sharing means Park Ridge taxpayers got Whole Foods and saved over $2 million of projected tax revenue.

And, no, one CAN’T “make a case…that without the TIF, Whole Foods would never have come here” – at least not one that from every angle looks to be a complete and total fiction.

Nobody’s proclaiming “Mission Accomplished,” and nobody should. But as best as we can ascertain, Whole Foods very well may be the biggest single new tax generator to move into Park Ridge in 25 years. And the City didn’t have to go tens of millions of dollars into bonded debt to get it, unlike with that financial white elephant at six corners that Wietecha, Marous, Frimark and a number of those other Ryles-backing elected officials foisted on us.

5 years ago, Park Ridge was in bad fiscal shape. It was plagued by a decade of secret deals and stupid policy.
Then Ald. Dave Schmidt ran on being the Anti-Frimark candidate. He said he would be transparent and cut the budget. He did exactly that in his first term which was expected and needed. Larry Ryles never had a message to combat that, especially with Frimark by his side.

The 2nd term is a whole new ballgame. Mayor Schmidt is very friendly with 3-4 (3 for sure) of the council members. He has appointed the other 2. The next 3 years are completely on the Mayor. “No” was the policy that Park Ridge wanted 5 years ago, however, it’s not as easy as that now.

Lastly, while not a Ryles voter, I still am extremely happy he ran. We need a contested Mayoral/Council race every cycle. He seems like a nice man, but he ran an awful campaign. The inclusion of unions and Jan Schakowksy in the Park Ridge mayoral race left a bad taste in many voters mouths.

Larry Ryles seems like a nice guy and is a positive contributor to the community.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you think Schmidt has a compliant Council majority, you haven’t been paying attention. And Schmidt’s two appointees (Alds. Sweeney and Mazzuca) aren’t even close to Schmidt’s views on many issues.

Larry Ryles does seem like a “nice guy” and he may very well be “a positive contributor to the community” as a private citizen. But his campaign was about 90% foam and only 10% beer, backed by special interests that either screwed over the City in the past, or looked to screw it over in the future.

Is there feedback that someone received from Whole Foods to indicate that they came to Park Ridge because “anti-deficit, anti-tax increase, fiscally-responsible” government?
Of course not. That’s the point. If you take responsibility for wins you have to for failure.

So, is the Mayor responsible for the growing commercial-residential zoning changes that are happening all over the city?

You can take a look at the Whole Foods website:
and see why they choose certain areas. SO YES, one could argue the TIF is one of the reasons why. You can also point to the demographics of Park Ridge and the proximity to closest other Whole Foods.

Typical politicians claim victories and don’t even report or investigate why that victory occurred. That’s why it’s a “political victory” instead of one we can learn from.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We haven’t heard Schmidt taking credit for Whole Foods, which we couched in terms of the speculative “maybe, just maybe”; and the last major commercial/residential zoning change Schmidt supported was FROM residential TO commercial: the Whole Foods site.

Neither the Whole Foods website nor any other data supports your argument that the TIF lured Whole Foods, an argument belied by the facts that Whole Foods is not in the TIF and did not receive any City subsidies.

To 2:09PM,

Look at the map on page 2 of this report:

Whole Foods is NOT located within the TIF district.

EDITOR’S NOTE: True, but to Anonymous @ 2:09 pm (who also is @1:54 pm and @1:23 pm), we suspect that just being across the street from the TIF district, or on the same street as the TIF district, or even sharing the same air as the TIF district, is enough to imbue Whole Foods with that winning TIF spirit.

While Schmidt is a genuinely likeable guy, who was the right guy for the job during a time when we needed a leader who squeaked when they walked (i.e. not afraid to cut services, staff, etc… to mitigate tax increases during economically challenging times). The question I and many others have is he the one who can actually move PR forward? How will he address the impact or reprecautions from years of making cuts and deferring infrastructure improvements, not to mention PR’s Titanic also referred to as the Uptown TIF? Significant changes needed on the horizon……just not convinced Schmidt’s the answer. Should be interesting 2017 election…assuming the right candidate steps up.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What exactly do you mean by “actually move PR forward”? Annex portions of Des Plaines? Attract Apple’s relocation of its corporate headquarters here? Acquire Bristol Court by eminent domain, tear down the buildings and build a shopping center?

It was Wietecha’s/Marous’/Frimark’s/the Chamber of Commerce’s/the alderdopes’ obsession with “mov[ing] PR forward” that got us into this TIF mess in the first place. Think we can sustain another economic hit like that?

C’mon PDog, 3:55 seems to be echoing the comment at 1:54. Those are honest questions. As they say in the business his “cheese has been moved.” Whoever is 3:55 is following closely, because last year there were numerous infrastructure items delayed. Apple couldn’t even come here? They probably have an EMB.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s nothing “honest” about them because the concept of “mov[ing] PR forward” is unintelligible without standards or examples. As we’ve seen over the past several decades with things like alcohol sales, McMansions, and zoning, one person’s moving forward is another person’s Sodom or Gomorrah.

But if you want those previously-delayed infrastructure items accelerated, identify them; and advise how they should be paid for.

Delay infrastructure items?!?!?!

But I thought…..”The infrastructure – e.g., the water supply, sewage, utilities, roadways, traffic control, etc. – should be our top priority because it represents the most essential of city services and has the greatest impact on the daily life of our residents”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And indeed it does. But parts of it – including the out-of-sight, out-of-mind sewers – were neglected for over a decade before Schmidt became mayor, and there isn’t enough money to pay for all of it today. So it still comes down to identifying the most pressing needs and figuring out how to pay for them given all the other demands on our tax dollars.

And when it comes to sewers, it’s our understanding that City Hall doesn’t even know the current physical condition, via direct inspection, of at least half of the City’s sewer system.

So how is it that after well over a full term in office, and in light of the above quote, and when considering the following…..”For example, our inadequate storm sewer system has caused many residents to lose thousands, and even tens of thousands, of dollars of possessions, including such irreplaceable things as family photos and mementoes. It also has increased the cost of their insurance and caused them a lot of time, effort and drudgery related to clean-up and repairs. Meanwhile, potholes in streets cause damage to our vehicles; and lack of tree trimming around power lines has been blamed for countless power outages”……..and the following “I will support accelerating the program for building relief sewers and modernizing and repairing our existing sewer lines in an effort to prevent potential catastrophic flooding problems in the future. I will also ask the Public Works Department to investigate using a new type of porous asphalt which allows water to percolate through the pavement instead of pooling or creating run-off and contributing to flooding”………and finally considering we have had a flood task force for years and paid an engineering firm a “boatload” of money…….how is it that we still do not even know the current physical condition of “at least half” our sewer system????

How is it that it takes a blogger with “inside knowledge” to even put this out there??

There has been undeniable progress in some areas during the Mayors administration….UNDENIABLE!! However, there have been areas that have been less that satisfactory.

You wrote a thread a few days back where you referenced criticizing the current D64 board chair (who you generally like) in the same way you would have criticized the prior admin “in the interest of fairness”.

Let’s hope some of that spirit translates to the city government side or the house. If the prior admin had made infrastructure and flooding one of their center pieces and spent the time and money the current admin has to this point and with these results??!?! Please!! You would be “firing up the barbecue” for Frimark on this issue……and he would deserve it!

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s no “inside knowledge” involved, just years of paying attention and observing the ineptitude, special interest influence and old-style politics that dominated City government from Wietecha through Frimark.

There are PLENTY of “areas that have been less that satisfactory” – primarily because you can’t remedy in 5 years all the bad decisions, deferred decisions, ignored problems and concealed problems, all exacerbated by what Mike Royko used to call “aggravated mopery with intent to gawk,” that accumulated during the 15+ years prior to Schmidt’s election. And for the first 2 of those 5 years he was saddled with a majority of Frimark alderpuppets, none of whom even stood for re-election.

We can’t speculate on how we might have reacted to what has transpired the past 5 years had any of those prior administrations been in control – because NONE of them “made infrastructure and flooding one [sic] of their center pieces.” So they never formed a flood control task force, and they never hired an expensive consultant to study such a complex problem, and they never had to address the question of whether it makes sense to spend $100 million on what might be, with a few exceptions, only 10-year flood relief. And that DOESN’T include inspecting, repairing, replacing and/or upgrading most of the current sewer system.

Finally, we consider ourselves equal-opportunity barbecuers of bad decisions, bad policy and bad processes.

“including the out-of-sight, out-of-mind sewers – were neglected for over a decade before Schmidt became mayor”
He’s been in office 5 years, so in 2017, someone can add 9 more years to the infrastructure neglect?

Here’s one from his election material: “Dave Schmidt also initiated desperately-needed flood control projects” What was the cost $5.3 Million? How’s that working for us?

How would you characterize the 5 years of infrastructure investment?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We would characterize it as “inadequate”… but justifiable on the basis of:
(a) the dearth of reliable, comprehensive information regarding the conditions of most of the sewer lines in town, making an informed plan of “basic” infrastructure improvement difficult if not temporarily impossible;
(b) the appropriate focus on gaining (for the first time) a meaningful understanding the flooding problem and coming up with a remediation plan, utilizing the services of both the task force and Burke Engineering;
(c) the need to decide if, and how much of, the Burke flood control plan provides a sufficient ROI when balancing its burdensome cost versus its generally minimal 10-year flood control;
(d) the need to decide, even if the answer to (c) is “yes,” whether the cost – likely and properly to be paid for by some type of long-term bonded debt – will be so onerous to service that it will either unduly tie the City’s hands on future expenditures, or require an unacceptably substantial tax increase; and
(e) the need to decide whether alternative forms of financing – such as Special Service Areas – make remediation more acceptable to the majority of taxpayers.

The fact is that the City, during Schmidt’s tenure, has commenced several flood control projects which should bring measurable relief to some of the most problematic flooding in town. What remains appears to be some of the most expensive, most complicated, and most uncertain of outcome projects – the success of which may even be affected by the upcoming phases of the continuing Deep Tunnel project. Consequently, Schmidt and the Council would be irresponsible if they simply forged ahead without fully considering all of these factors.

Since these infrastructure improvements are the mayors “centerpiece”, doesn’t that make him a failure so far?

Call a spade a spade, you are saying that he doesn’t have his own “alder puppets”?

Answer this, how many current alderman have attended fundraisers for the mayor?

At least the PRPD solved a problem, this city council just complains about them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Only if you’re simple-minded enough to think projects like this can and should be undertaken with a snap of the fingers.

He has NO “alderpuppets” that we can see. The only alderman who has consistently voted to sustain Schmmidt’s vetoes is Ald. Knight, and that appears to be solely because Knight legitimately agrees with Schmidt on those issues. Conversely, Alds. Sweeney, Smith, Maloney and Mazzuca have voted to over-ride Schmidt’s vetoes of such things as pay raises, the cop shop expansion – presumably because THEY legitimately disagree with Schmidt, even though at least two of them attended Schmidt fundraisers during the last election cycle. And to this point, Alds. Milissis and Shubert have not had an opportunity to establish a record of their own.

As for “the PRPD [solving] a problem,” if you are referring to the Centennial water park, we would point out that those Park Board members chose to spend $8 million of OPM without a referendum to build something usable for only 3 months of the year – and without the one feature (a lazy river) that the District’s 682 survey respondents voted as the most desirable of that project.


Schubert, Mazzuca and Knight were at the “victory” party in April. Sweeney ? I can’t remember . Wasn’t Schmidt instrumental in Millissis running? Nothing wrong with that, it’s important to keep score.

Overall point is, he has a friendly council in order to accomplish his agenda. We are expecting results.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We recall Ald. Maloney there, too, but his and Mazzuca’s voting histories demonstrate that they aren’t mere toadies who blindly vote whatever way Schmidt wants them to vote. And even when we disagree with them, that’s still fine with us.

So while they may have supported Schmidt’s re-election and/or joined in his victory celebration (as did this editor), they aren’t necessarily “friendly” in the way that term is understood in Illinois political circles – or as it used to be understood at City Hall.

Wait a second!! You were at Mayor Schmidt’s victory celebration?!?! Well knock me over with a feather!!!

The poster never said anything wrong with the “relationships” (Knight was his treasurer) between the Mayor and the Aldermen. I think he/she is simply saying that if one chooses they can show the same fuzzy connections that earned others the alderpuppet labels.

I love your defense…..”they aren’t necessarily “friendly” in the way that term is understood in Illinois political circles – or as it used to be understood at City Hall”. Now there is a strong defense.

I am glad to hear they are not “friendly” in that way…..necessarily.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re surprised you’re not as “shocked, shocked” by that news as Inspector Renault was to learn that gambling was going on at Rick’s cafe in “Casablanca.”

And, no, one can’t “show the same fuzzy connections that earned others the alderpuppet label” under Frimark, Marous or Wietecha – in the first place because none of those other mayors ever vetoed anything the Council did (go figure why that never happened!) and, therefore, never had vetoes over-ridden by any of those supposedly “friendly” aldermen, including on issues Schmidt has spoken strongly about.

Oh, and Knight resigned as Schmidt’s campaign treasurer when he was elected alderman, so the treasurer title only applied to the 2009 campaign.

But just keep telling yourself the big lie that Schmidt’s just like Frimark, just like Marous, just like Wietecha, just like Frimark….

I agree with PubDog’s headline: The election WAS a big win for Mayor Schmidt. This is doubly true because Mayor Schmidt spent his first term fighting spending for a whole slew of special interests. So those interests had a special motivation for defeating him for re-election. Despite that organized opposition, Mayor Schmidt won handily. I suspect much of this can be explained by taxpayers appreciating his frugality with their tax dollars. Even if chariness with taxpayer dollars does not fully explain Schmidt’s decisive win, his re-election was still a resounding “yes” on the Schmidt administration.

1-3-04 11 am-Just what problem has the PRPD solved?

As it stands now they have created more problems than they have solved. The waterpark will create problems into the future indefinitely as it will likely lose money for the PRPD. So on top of paying for the $6,300,000 of debt and trying to recoup the $1,400,000 the PRPD took out of reserves for one project-the taxpayers will also have to fund the annual operating deficit of the waterpark.

The PRPD could not even redo the north end of the parking lot without spending $80,000 more than what was budgeted. For just one portion of the parking lot. Can’t wait to see how much of the proposed YC project actually gets constructed for $13,200,000.

When an elected group of officials look to solve a problem they are supposed to look at many options not just one. And as was admitted to by the PRPD at one of their public meetings in the late fall of 2012-the PRPD considered only one solution to the failing pools-a waterpark.

Stop comparing the PRPD to the city council. The current PRPD board has no respect for the taxpayers raising our taxes for a waterpark we don’t need. Thankfully the current city council is more considerate of how to best spend the taxpayers’ money.


So you consider 400K for a study (just to look at the issue, not raise a single shovel) for the recent construction in uptown to be considerate??

EDITOR’S NOTE: What do you think it should have cost?

What study did the PRPD commission to determine a $7,800,000 waterpark was the only solution to replace the failing pools? What study did the PRPD commission to determine that they should spend this much OPM on a very limited use asset when the PRPD’s total annual budget is about $14,000,000?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Park District had their pool designer, Stantec, devise a survey with questions slanted toward eliciting support of a new water park while making no mention of costs. It received a whopping 682 responses, but that was good enough for the current executive director and this Park Board to embark on an almost $8 million project with $6.3 million of bonded debt.

To use a version of what you have said in the past (in a dialogue with Dr. Paterno I believe), sorry but that is why we have a Mayor and Aldermen, so the public doe not have to do it. This is what they are supposed to be watching.

To repeat what I have said here before (and stressing that I am not an engineer or electrician of or road construction expert), if you play around with the numbers they seem a bit crazy. Maybe there is something I am missing, but if you assume that the engineering firm is billing at $1,000 per hour that would be 10 work weeks to investigate and space out the project(s) in uptown…..10 weeks at 1000/hr!! It gets worse.

They obviously do not bill $1000 for one person. Let’s say they have 5 working on the project at $200 each. Now let’s assume they make a 25% margin. They walk away with 100K and 300K is the actual expense. 300K divided by 200 is 1500. 1500 man hours to spec out and investigate the project. That is 37.5 weeks!!! This is just to do the analysis and study. There would seem to be no material costs involved. I am not discounting their skill or ability and they sure as hell deserve to make a healthy profit but 400K seems like a very big number.

What’s worse is, as far as I can tell, there was no dialogue or difficult conversations about this number, what it was for and how it was generated.

So PD (or anyone else) please feel free to beat up my “back of the napkin” analysis and tell me what I did not include or under estimated or just plain forgot.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t disagree with you conceptually but, frankly, we don’t currently have the expertise or ability to determine whether or not the City has been overcharged for these services.

As we understand it, the City’s Public Works Dept. is a strong advocate of Burke’s services, as was former city mgr. Jim Hock. And as we pointed out in our 09.13.13 post, back in 2011 Mayor Dave Schmidt and several aldermen questioned the circumstances surrounding the selection of Burke as the City’s flood control consultant.

We trust they are still keeping an eye on all the moving pieces.

As far as I can tell there was no dialogue questioning the size or make up this bill or any bill related to the project.

I have to say your answer sums up one of the main issues with the conservatives and those who scream the loudest about deficits (at a local, state and federal level). You say you do not disagree with me conceptually on a 400K bill and yet it seems to be no big deal. On some things you demand all information and data down to a gnats fanny and on others it’s “we trust they are keeping an eye on it”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a “conservative” or “liberal” (or is that “progressive”?) issue, this is a cost-value-affordability issue. And, yes, it IS a “big deal.” And, yes, the Mayor and the City Council should be keeping a close eye on what Burke Engineering is billing it – and how friendly our Public Works Department seems to be with Burke.

But since we had this same colloquy with you re our 09.09.13 post, feel free to go back there and re-read your comments and our responses.

542- study or commission??? Ummmm the pools were failing broke assets. Do you need to pay a consultant to tell you they were broke? Then you’d be like the city council that loved paying consultants and forming commissions only to produce no results and waste time.

I really wish these critics followed or attended a park board meeting. There was more than option presented. Be honest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editor followed ALL the Park Board meetings at which Centennial pool was discussed, and he personally attended several of them, so he well-knows that the then-existing Centennial Pools were no longer serviceable and could not economically be repaired or refurbished.

Consequently, he well-knows that the Park Board DID hire a “consultant” – Stantec – to run a silly/bogus “survey” that yielded a measily 682 responses which the Board and Executive Director then leveraged to propagandize the almost $8 million ($6.3 million of bonded debt) water park they wanted from Day One. The process was such a sham and so deceitful that every single Park Board member who endorsed it owes the District’s taxpayers an apology – although the taxpayers shouldn’t hold their breaths waiting for one from public officials so shameless, arrogant and yet cowardly that they didn’t even have the decency to go to referendum on that project.

The three options for centennial were:
1. Replace as is. That would’ve been short-sighted when you have a clear opportunity to modernize

2. Close the pools. After losing oakton the town is already way to “dry”.

3. Give the taxpayers a modern facility as best they could find within a board chosen acceptable cost.

3 won and really I’ll never understand the name calling and anger over them doing their jobs. Or complain about it like the city does the TIF while never solving the problem.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ah, yes, the old “giv[ing] the taxpayers a modern facility” – but using the taxpayers’ money (i.e., OPM) without asking the taxpayers, via a referendum vote, whether they wanted that “modern facility,” or whether they thought approx. $8 million is an “acceptable cost,” or even whether those taxpayers agree that “the town is already way to [sic] ‘dry’.”

The last time the Park Board decided to “[g]ive the taxpayers a modern facility” without a referendum was the Community Center, a terribly-designed, under-sized, second/third-rate facility that was effectively obsolete the day it opened its doors.

The omission of the lazy river from the first phase of the Centennial Pool project was very disappointing but given that it was a disproportionately large part of the overall cost, it’s understandable why it was left until a more hospitable economic climate allows completion. The “waterpark” some keep mischaracterizing the project as being is modest by any modern standard; the infamous slide, for example, is only 1/3rd the height of the typical slide. And even you, PubDog, took a reader to task early on by correctly stating (my paraphrase) that it would cost far more to just put two new square holes in the ground than it could ever attract in user fees. The Centennial pool upgrade is just that; an upgrade; nice enough to capture Park Ridge resident dollars now going to DesPlaines, Elk Grove, etc. but not so stellar as to attract Outsiders. You know. In short, it’s a happy medium, and people who understand this are happy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s just plain bunk.

Q: If this “Centennial pool upgrade” was such a fine idea, why didnb’t the Park Board take it to a binding referendum so that the taxpayers could not just endorse the idea but pay for it with referendum debt, thereby leaving the Park District with its full complement of non-referendum bonding power?

A: This Executive Director and this Board knew – they were absolutely CERTAIN – that any referendum, binding or advisory, would lose; and then they would have to either accept that defeat or tell the voters to pound sand and do the project anyway, thereby risking the voters’ wrath. Not surprisingly, they took the easy way out by insisting, without any proof one way or the other, that that’s what the taxpayers wanted.

As we’ve said before and will continue to say: dishonesty, arrogance and cowardice, all rolled into one foolish project.

Just for grins, what would you suggest the City do re the disastrous TIF??
The City is contractually obligated into a completely disadvantageous position via a vis the school districts, the park district and the bond holders. What magic wand would you have the wave to solve the issue.
Oh, and BTW, as PW would say, all this thanks to those former Mayors, Aldermen and advisors who so adeptly got the City into this shitty financial situation.


Ya know who we need to have give us some direction on the answer to your question?? I know he is with a different governing body but I think we need to hear from (that wise ole’ sage) Mel Thillens. After all, Mel cares about budgets and worries about our taxes……unless it is something he wants to spend money on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly. And he really, really cares what all us taxpayers think about the issues – except when it gets in the way of his borrowing and spending and pandering to special interests.

341- SOMETHING. Not just using it as an excuse for every non action by this council.

Seriously, pay attention to their words. Lots of them, little action.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The “just don’t stand there, do SOMETHING” – ANYTHING – mentality works great with OPM, which is why it’s a favorite of bureaucrats and politicians.

I was at all but one of the PRPD board meetings regarding the construction of the waterpark. At one of the meetings the PRPD board along with the self serving consultants stated that no other option was considered including replacing the pools in the same footprint. The PRPD wanted a waterpark and they were bound to get one and the failing pools were there opportunity to-along with voting on the plan in December when most folks were too busy with the holidays to pay attention to the fact the PRPD board was voting to spend over $7,000,000 on a project the voting taxpayers of PR had said no to 3 times before. What part of this don;t you get as being totally dishonest?

When the board was asked if they had considered replacing the pools in the same footprint as is Com Ryan compared replacing the pools in the same footprint as going cheap on Christmas decorations or replacing a 1950’s car with another car from the ’50’s. What astute comments from a commissioner-so glad she has input over a $14,000,000 budget and millions in bonding authority.

The board back then said the Phase I of the waterpark was going to be $7,100,000 with $800,000 coming from reserves. Now the waterpark construction is nearing $8,000,000! That’s quite an overrun. Where is the money coming from? How will the other assets of the PRPD be maintained when the reserves have been committed to a limited use asset? Why does the sled hill need to be closed? There is no construction near the hill or the field at the base of the hill.

It is also interesting that people say that the waterpark will keep Park Ridge families from spending their money at out of town facilities while not being a grand enough waterpark to draw people from other towns. But unless their are quite a few non PR people who come and pay the high out of town rate-the waterpark really has little chance of breaking even. So PR taxpayers will have to fund the annual deficits.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Keeping Park Ridge residents spending money in Park Ridge was one of the brain-dead excuses former Park Boards used to justify keeping Oakton open even when it was losing $100K a year.


I have to ask, do you really believe that the sled hill is an issue even worth brining up?? I mean frankly in only cheapens the rest of your argument by making you seem like a whiner. Do you think the board or the consultants or the construction folks just thought…..”What the hell, let’s keep the kids from sledding this year for no reason. Besides it will piss of 8:10PM and FOP”. Don’t you think it is more likely that it had something to do with the project or safety??

I have a family that loves the sled hill but good lord!! It is for one winder and the winter is already half over.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The sled hill is irrelevant to the central issue.

I think the PRPD failed to really tell the taxpayers of PR the extent to which the park at Centenial was going to be effected as the result of the waterpark construction ncluding the number of healthy trees taken down and not replaced, the cost of the waterpark, the fields that were rendered unusable for soccer and football games or practice, the size and depth of the water retention ponds, (don’t these pose some sort of danger or liability as they are not fenced off), the loss of a playground and a bochi ball court which is not being replaced, the cost overrun for just one portion of the parking lot, and the list could go on.

And yes the sled hill seems trivial. But the entire handling of the Centennial pool replacement has been dishonest and the board less than forthcoming about the full impact and cost of construction. Closing the hill was not mentioned until well into the process. Safety may be an issue but adults and kids are going over the fence to use the hill anyway. Asking the neighbors to turn in the “trespassers” and having the police patrol the hill seems like a waste-which is what the PRPD seems pretty good at.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Everything you note – whether relevant or irrelevant – was meaningless to the Park District once it set its sights on the new water park.

Speaking of dishonesty, it’s two slides, it’s not a waterpark. It’s funny that every opponent calls it a waterpark. I’ve never heard anyone else call it a waterpark besides the loud opponents thinking this will scare other older people in town.

I think it fundamentally comes down to this. The aged population of Park Ridge has used and used all of our resources and now when it comes time to replace them, a few of them are too cheap and selfish. It really speaks to the character of these people. Oakton is gone. South Park is a toddler pool. Hinkley is a one pool source (for 37,000 residents) is not even close to enough.

Centennial Pool had to be replaced or modernized. Thankfully, the board must actually function in society and understand that when you replace something, it’s a good opportunity to modernize it. Yes, I’m pro pool, but I’m am happy to pay more in my taxes for it. So it’s not OPM. The pool, fun and memories of the pool will outlive all the shortsighted coots in town.

“Com. Ryan” and others were an excellent leaders on this issue. She answered
questions (often extremely RUDE ones) honestly, while trying to have it make sense to the people. Hence, the 50’s car analogy or whatever. Do you still use records, or do you “replace” your record player with an IPOD?

Also- 810pm and FOP, the board said the replacement as is of the pools was over $5 Mil and shrewdly knew that would be stupid when you can have a more modern facility (for a little more) that works for more people and is up to date. Hey, they even help the old people with the ability to now walk in the pool instead of jumping in.

Lastly, your dishonesty protrudes your whole rant. You know the pool isn’t the only cost of the project. The awful parking lot, new water detention and other factors tie in as well.

Unfortunately, when people get so worked up over an issue, they choose lies to try to help their argument.

Most of the opponents are the complainers who live across the street from the park and whined about traffic, parking and trees rudely at meetings. Didn’t they even name their coalition something? Talk about an OPM crowd.

It’s about character. You would think those proud of Park Ridge would pay it forward to the next generation.

The Park District Board is the ONLY successful government body in Park Ridge. 2014 will show that they know how to manage our assets and think of the future. All while the D64/D207 tax us to death with average results. And the city government can cut budgets, but have no insight into the future.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, it’s 2 slides, a “leisure pool” with zero-depth entry, a “plunge” pool, “geysers” and other features the 2 previous pools didn’t have. Hence, a “water park” rather than “2 pools and 2 slides.”

What it comes down to is a dishonest, resume-fattening executive director and dishonest, arrogant and paddering Board members who refused to go to referendum, even an advisory one, because they KNEW the voters – not just the older voters, but of ALL ages – would have told them “no.” And then those Board member couldn’t pander to the special-interest freeloaders who are “happy to pay more taxes” only when it means that the vast majority of taxpayers who won’t use and wouldn’t vote for the new facility will be subsidizing the freeloaders’ use – as we saw with those few loud-mouthed lap swimmers who for years insisted that the Park District keep Oakton open even as it lost $100K/year but weren’t willing to pay the $22/hour or whatever the actual cost of running that pool became.

Anybody who needs a non-referendum, $8 million water park open only 3 months a year for a small fraction of the population in order to be “proud of Park Ridge” is a shallow, superficial and cowardly dolt – which is why the makers of stupid comments such as these always do so anonymously.

Editor, please answer this: why does the Park District get torn apart for doing something about their crumbling infrastructure, while the city council uses theirs as an excuse?

Secondly, should the mayor go to referendum on what to do with the TIF and sewer projects?

Third, did you write an article then the mayor and city council did not go to referendum on a $5.3 million sewer project (which now may have been almost pointless)?

EDITOR’S NOTE: First, because the Park Board didn’t go to a referendum – unlike every Park Board since 1994 – on its $8 million of 3-month/year water park that is such a foolish waste of money that even the Park Board knew a majority of taxpayers/voters didn’t support and would vote against.

Second, yes – assuming that those issues can be framed in terms of a yes/no ballot question, which we believe they can.

Third, no we did not – because from what we know of the 7 relief-sewer projects covered by that $5.3 million expenditure, we believe they provide signficant, cost-effective value for the seven areas in which they are located and are not “almost pointless.”

9:21 So glad you are willing to spend more of your money for a waterpark-yes it is a waterpark. But the rest of PR residents should have had the opportunity to make that decision. But theu did not because as has been pointed out thr PRPD and the resume building ED did mot have the decency to put the issue to a referendum.

Fiscal responsibility is not whining. Those who oppose this expletive of wasteful spending ate not all old people who used up resources and now refuse to pay it forward. The only thing this waterpark is “paying forward” is years of debt, waterpark deficits,

Count me in as a “shallow, superficial and cowardly dolt.” The park board did the right thing in moving forward with this pool upgrade.

“Waterpark” is indeed hyperbolic, unless you call the old Centennial a waterpark because its kids’ area had geysers and other water play features that you seem intent on characterizing as part of the evil waterpark moniker.

As 9:21 said, the PRPD is thinking of the future. Unlike PWD and many others who are thinking only of now and only of themselves. I’ve gathered from posts and comments here that their vision includes NOTHING to improve or enhance our city and that they’d be fine with it all crumbling to nothing. Unless, if course, something was paid for entirely with private dollars.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We already have.

Had the Park Board sent the Centennial water park to referendum and it won, we wouldn’t be beefing about it – just as we aren’t beefing about the Youth Campus Park that the voters approved even though we had/have our doubts about it.

We will match our concern for ALL Park Ridge residents against anybody’s – especially our concern for the taxPAYERS over the taxUSERS. Which is one reason why we’ve always supported essential infrastructure maintenance, repair and improvement over frivolous amenities, especially expensive but second- and third-rate ones like our Community Center and the new Centennial water park.

Let’s talk about this rationally.

Did the $5.3 Million band-aid for “certain areas” of flood relief benefit every taxpayer? NO. Did it go to referendum? NO. The Park Board & City Council/Mayor both acted legally with their authority on their respective issues.

10:33, Would you have been happy if they replaced the exact pool footprint for over $5 Million dollars? It’s universally agreed that the pool was failing. Or, do you advocate concrete there?
LEGALLY, the board did NOT have to go to referendum. Make up names or paranoid theories, but they did their job.

As a community we have to fund infrastructure projects together. Or not at all, then complain when previous administrations were neglectful to their duties!

Does this editor think that all parks should be abolished? I know many people at different condo complexes who have never set a foot in a park or a pool. I also have never used an ambulance, why do I subsidize the older generation who uses it more? Guys, this stuff isn’t that difficult. Why didn’t FOP or 10:33 run for Park Board last year? Why didn’t the editor go back and run for board?
I’ve heard more whining and excuses, but the April election already spoke up clearly the city and park government bodies.

Leaders have to lead. The editor “likes” the city project but didn’t like the park project. He may be right, but we elected (re-elected) leaders because of the decisions they made or assume they will make based on their record.

EDITOR’S NOTE: From your previous posts it’s pretty clear that “reason” isn’t your strong suit, but here goes:

1. Infrastructure (e.g., sewers) is a 12-month/year essential service; a water park/pool complex is a 3-month/year amenity. THAT alone should end the discussion, but there is more.

2. The relief sewers in those 7 areas will arguably benefit ALL of Park Ridge to the extent they will reduce overland flooding of streets that can render them impassable.

3. Previous Park Boards didn’t have to go to referendum, either, but they did – because it’s the RIGHT thing to do.

4. Pools are NOT essential infrastructure, which is why they are called “amenities” and sewers are not.

5. Who has suggested that “all parks should be abolished”? And are you equating ambulance service with a water park? Seriously?

7. “Leaders have to lead” is like saying “Dictators have to dictate.” It’s nonsensical.

Two incumbent Park Board members who supported the Centennial water park without a referendum, Steve Hunst and Steven Vile, lost their bid for re-election to the only two non-incumbent candidates. There were no other challengers to defeat the other two incumbents, so you can’t draw any other conclusion from that.

Centennial project should have gone to referendum without question. Any project of that magnitude warrants the residents thumbs up or down. More importantly it’s not a decision that should be made by part time “elected” officials, most of which ran uncontested and who lack the credentials to make these type of decisions without any accountability.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It COULD have been made by those “part time ‘elected’ officials” – but should have been made AFTER an advisory referendum was held.

SO where is this over all policy focus of yours?? The 5.3 million did not need to go to referendum because…..YOU believe they are good/and or the right thing to do. That does not mean that the rest of PR feels the same way. 5.3 million is a big chunk of change so based on what seemed to be your policy the public should have had a chance to voice their opinion. You go on to say that any further flood plan projects should go to referendum (?). So the public had no say on the 5.3 mil but now should have a say on any additional projects?? Seems like the “policy” is that if PD doesn’t like the project it should go to or should have gone to referendum. If PD does like it no referendum is required.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What part of “infrastructure/sewers essential, amenities/pools frivolous” don’t you grasp, Zippy? The seven relief sewer projects are “infrastructure” and were prioritized because they appeared to give the biggest bang for the $5.3 million tab.

How many essential services will the $8 million water park provide. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nil.

And, yes, any further flood plan projects should go to referendum – but only because their costs are multiples of what was spent for those first 7 projects combined, with serious questions remaining about their cost effectiveness.

2. The relief sewers in those 7 areas will arguably benefit ALL of Park Ridge to the extent they will reduce overland flooding of streets that can render them impassable.

My god you could make that argument for about 500+ areas in PR. You could make that argument for at least 5 corners on Belle Plaine which is a high traffic area or on Greenwood or even Cumberland that suffer from overland flooding at the corners making streets virtually useless unless you have a Truck or large SUV.

See how your argument works on someone who has constant flooding issues but did not make the cut in the analysis by the engineers (we paid a ton). Tell it to someone who does not live in one of these 7 areas and cannot even get around town in heavy rains because of all the OTHER areas and street corners that flood. Not to mention someone not in one of these areas whose basement floods… wait I forgot. They are stupid for not getting their own flood control system.

I wonder how all those folks would have voted on the 5.3 million. Oh well, just like with the pool, we will never know.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, we reiterate: if you have chronic flooding and haven’t installed private flood control you are terminally STUPID.

And, yes, we reiterate: infrastructure (i.e., sewers) is essential, amenities (i.e., water parks) are frivolous.

And finally, yes, the City did not go to referendum to spend $2.7 million LESS on infrastructure than the Park District spent, also without a referendum, on a frivolous amenity. So your point is?

Forgive my ignorance but I still don’t get how not going to referendum allowed the PRPD to get away with building something and why the city is not able to stop it and the city council choses to raise out taxes over it.


“How many essential services will the $8 million water park provide. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nil.”

Perhaps but how much do “amenities” contribute to a town’s appeal and ability to attract new residents and their wallets? You may not think one pool project or a half a million dollar cut to the library budget, which was discussed earlier, matter. But between letting Oakton go and the city council’s continued nickel and diming of the library the city looks less and less desirable than many of our suburban counterparts. Upgrading Centennial was a step in the right direction.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More anonymous stupidity.

Over the past 25 years nobody in this town has EVER demonstrated in any objectively measurable fashion how ANY amenity has increased property values. But if you’ve got actual data that shows differently, please share.

Essential to whom? Those in park ridge pointe? Bristol court? Those in wards where there is no work being done? Or those that spent 10k on flood control? Thousands of people will not benefit from the *maybe* wasted 5.3 million along with the Burke consulting hundreds of thousands. No referendum no problem I guess.

Or really is the 5.3 million for the appearance of political action to this mayors council? I would wager that the mayor would re-think the sewer project if he had to a do over

This mayors council should be called the “free pass” government, because that’s what it gets.

At least once Centennnail Pool is completed there won’t be calls to hire consultants to see if it works.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you weren’t such a shy little boy/girl, maybe we could identify you as one of those who showed up at City Hall at the several meetings at which those 7 relief sewer projects were discussed and expressed his/her vigorous opposition to them. Oh wait, we don’t recall ANYBODY showing up to complain about those projects – other than, perhaps, to want more of them and wanting them in their neighborhoods.

But, hey, Burke has another $100 million-plus of flood control projects for other parts of the City. Can we count on you to step out of your anonymity to lead a referendum campaign for doing all that work?

I’m late to the discussion but it has meandered a bit so just a few comments from a long time resident.

Regarding Mayor Dave, we are lucky to have him and hopefully he wont step down in disgust and frustration at sometime in the future, given the city affairs he has inherited, and particularly when dealing with some of councilmen who apparently don’t do their homework or don’t understand their homework to say nothing of their understanding of the responsibilities of their office as it applies to the citizens of this city.

Lucky to have him because he is not an advocate of all government is good and more government is better.

Lucky to have him because he is not a tax and spend advocate which is a concept that is so very common to the Washington, Springfield and Chicago leadership.

What do we need, why do need it, do we really need it and how much is going to cost and is that the best price we can get, wow what novel concepts, and I thank him for them and I do hope he keeps it up.

Regarding the flood control issue, people need to understand that there is no magical solution as we are at the mercy of the geography of this area and it is, or was, a natural flood plain of the DesPlaines river before we as a civilization ever got here and couple that with raised roadbeds, which alter overland water flows, and inadequate sewer maintenance and construction and you have what we’ve got. As an aside it was farmland when I was growing up in the forties and early fifties and Canfield and Cumberland were either dirt or partially paved roads.

Regarding the water park and the youth campus, one should consider, although it’s much to late, the costs that will have to be recovered through property taxes and increased fees to cover the financing so for an example of the true cost of youth campus/new park.

Assume an $8,000,000.00 bond offering at an interest rate of 3% which is to be paid off in 20 years. Those figures result in a total payout of $12,800,000.00 over the 20 year life of the bonds.

Granted the example is simplified as there are many different approaches as to how the bonds are issued, and called, and obviously the interest rate can change up or down at the offering time but think of it $12,800,000.00 or $640,000.00 per year will have to be raised to fund the park. A better quality of life and lower property taxes, hah!

And by the way the above does not take into consideration the likely increase in maintenance costs that will occur. Any one want to hazard a guess?

If anybody is still around have at it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Better late than never. If Schmidt has accomplished anything, hopefully it’s instilling in more people the recognition that government costs money, and more government costs more money. And, since there’s no profit motive to encourage efficiencies and innovation, there are no inherent restraints on spending.

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